Union optimistic as moves to save Hall’s gain ground

Union leaders say they are 
optimistic that closure-threatened meat plant Hall’s of Broxburn can be saved.

After a round of meetings on the future of the West Lothian plant and its 1700 workforce, Usdaw official Stewart Forrest said: “Everyone says their priority is to keep Hall’s open. This is going to be a long road but we’re very encouraged by the support we have received so far, and if that continues I’m confident we can reach a solution to keep the plant operating.” He said the company had been unable to give detailed answers to many questions the union put to them, but they had assured them they would do so next week.

Dutch parent company Vion announced on Thursday that it planned to close the plant, which it said was losing £79,000 a day.

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The Scottish Government immediately established a task force bringing together the company, unions, West Lothian Council and others in a bid to save the plant.

First Minister Alex Salmond made a two-hour visit to the factory yesterday to meet management and union representatives.

Afterwards he said: “This has been a decision taken at European level by the company, but I will travel anywhere and meet anyone to try to protect Scottish jobs. All of those serving on the taskforce will be working tirelessly over the coming weeks and months to help deliver a positive economic future for the workforce and community of Broxburn.”

Livingston MP Graeme Morrice and Labour colleagues also held meetings with management and unions.

Mr Morrice said: “Losing the jobs would be absolutely devastating. The community here is shell-shocked and I predict a massive local fightback in support of the workforce. Millions has been invested in the plant in recent years, so a lot of questions need answered.”

West Lothian Council will convene a special meeting during the summer recess to allow members to hear a report about the potential closure. Councillors will gather at the civic centre in Livingston on Tuesday morning. Council leader John McGinty said: “I have taken urgent action to call a special meeting of the council executive as the 90-day consultation period means that the clock is already ticking.”

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore promised a “Team Scotland” approach in response to the threatened closure.

He said the UK Government would work with the Scottish Government to ensure that all options are explored and that measures are taken to minimise the impact of any job losses.

He said: “I have spoken with John Swinney and promised to provide the taskforce with whatever support they require from the UK Government. This situation requires a united Team Scotland approach and that is what will happen.”